Local governments are key democratic institutions. In Zimbabwe, they have received considerable capacity development since independence through programmes using different approaches.
One of the actors providing capacity building for local governments in Zimbabwe is Sweden, through the Swedish International Centre for
Local Democracy (ICLD). Since the turn of the century, capacity building for local governments has proceeded within a context of i) rising poverty,
ii) rapid urbanization, iii) stressed governance performance and iii) contested political reforms. Having run four international training programmes
reaching 83 alumni since 2011, ICLD commissioned a study to consolidate the emerging impact of this training. The study was conducted between December 2016 and May 2017 and is based on insights gained from 70 alumni
of these training programmes. They responded to a questionnaire and 11 of them took part in face-to-face interviews. Our analysis highlights the relevance of the ITPs regarding closing leadership gaps, building networks, and enhancing
participatory leadership. All these are critical to local development needs.
Drawing on some alumni’s suggestions, this paper consolidates ideas for future initiatives by ICLD and other actors interested in fostering local democracy. There is scope to improve the design and delivery of ITPs by i) introducing local platforms to sustain change and increase their reach, ii) adapting relevant ITP aspects when designing local councillor inductions, iii) exposing key national institutions such as the Portfolio Committee responsible for local government and thus expanding the spaces within which alumni apply their local democracy skills, iv) developing a framework for councils together with ITP participants to identify and support change projects and strategic issues, and v) strengthening the selection
of trainees, their preparation and support (during and after training). Additional research is needed to further ground some of the suggested
improvements both in Zimbabwe and in other (comparable) countries where relevant ITPs have been implemented.
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